One of the PNAC's most influential publications was a 90-page report titled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century. Citing the PNAC's 1997 Statement of Principles,Rebuilding America's Defenses asserted that the United States should "seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership" by "maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces." The report's primary author was Thomas Donnelly, and Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt are credited as project chairmen. It also lists the names of 27 other participants that contributed papers or attended meetings related to the production of the report, six of whom subsequently assumed key defense and foreign policy positions in the Bush administration. It suggested that the preceding decade had been a time of peace and stability, which had provided "the geopolitical framework for widespread economic growth" and "the spread of American principles of liberty and democracy." The report warned that "no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself.
According to the report, current levels of defense spending were insufficient, forcing policymakers "to try ineffectually to “manage” increasingly large risks." The result, it suggested, was a form "paying for today's needs by shortchanging tomorrow's; withdrawing from constabulary missions to retain strength for large-scale wars; "choosing" between presence in Europe or presence in Asia; and so on." All of these, the report asserted, were "bad choices" and "false economies," which did little to promote long-term American interests. "The true cost of not meeting our defense requirements," the report argued, "will be a lessened capacity for American global leadership and, ultimately, the loss of a global security order that is uniquely friendly to American principles and prosperity."
Rebuilding America's Defenses recommended establishing four core missions for US military forces: the defense of the "American homeland," the fighting and winning of "multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars," the performance of "'constabular' duties associated with shaping the security environment" in key regions, and the transformation of US forces "to exploit the 'revolution in military affairs.'" Its specific recommendations included the maintenance of US nuclear superiority, an increase of the active personnel strength of the military from 1.4 to 1.6 million people, the redeployment of US forces to Southeast Europe and Asia, and the "selective" modernization of US forces. The report advocated the cancellation of "roadblock" programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter (which it argued would absorb "exorbitant" amounts of Pentagon funding while providing limited gains), but favored the development of "global missile defenses," and the control of "space and cyberspace," including the creation of a new military service with the mission of "space control." To help achieve these aims, Rebuilding America's Defenses advocated a gradual increase in military and defense spending "to a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually.